The Choptank River: A Mid-Chesapeake Bay Index Site for Evaluating Ecosystems Responses to Nutrient Management

EPA Grant Number: R826941
Title: The Choptank River: A Mid-Chesapeake Bay Index Site for Evaluating Ecosystems Responses to Nutrient Management
Investigators: Malone, Thomas C. , Boicourt, William C. , Cornwell, Jeffrey C. , Harding Jr., Lawrence W. , Stevenson, J. Court
Institution: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Current Institution: Horn Point Laboratory
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 15, 1998 through September 14, 2001 (Extended to September 14, 2002)
Project Amount: $596,097
RFA: Ecological Effects of Environmental Stressors Using Coastal Intensive Sites (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Environmental Statistics


This proposal requests support to establish the Choptank River as an Index Site in the CISNet program. The Choptank, a tributary of Chesapeake Bay, is representative of rivers draining largely agricultural landscapes in the coastal zone of the eastern US. The submittal consists of two components, one focusing on traditional shipboard sampling and retrospective data analysis, the second using remote sensing from aircraft and buoys to obtain data of high spatial and temporal resolution for key variables. The primary goal of this effort is to develop and examine methods for detecting responses to anthropogenic stresses and to establish this Site as a sentinel for change in a broader domain of coastal plain ecosystems. Of particular interest are the impacts of meteorological fluctuations and nutrient management on water quality and living resources in the Choptank drainage basin.


To achieve this goal, resources of the Index Site will be used to: (1) synthesize data from past and ongoing research and monitoring programs; (2) implement an integrated program of in situ and remote sensing for the collection of long term, spatially synoptic, high resolution measurements. The intent is to capture the full range of variability that characterizes the Choptank River Index Site, to resolve responses elicited by human activities from variability imposed by nature, and to predict trends and their consequences. Specific studies in the proposed Index Site will: (1) determine the effects of nutrient management actions on patterns of N and P inputs; (2) quantify the effects of changing patterns of N and P inputs on water quality and living resources; (3) examine the role of marshes and SAV in modulating the fluxes of nutrients from land to water; and (4) develop and evaluate indicators of coastal ecosystem integrity and sustainability that integrate over the spectrum of ecological variability.

Expected Results:

The establishment of the Choptank River Index Site will benefit from results of previous and ongoing research and monitoring efforts in the region that encompasses a broad range of nutrient loads and sources, including both land drainage and atmospheric deposition; it will promote partnerships with state and federal agencies and add value to Baywide monitoring by providing improved spatial and temporal coverage of key indices of ecosystem state; and it will exploit the capabilities of Horn Point Laboratory in high-resolution, long-term time series observations (in situ monitoring) and remote sensing (aerial and satellite) for the purpose of separating short- term variability from long-term trends in coastal ecosystems.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 22 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 3 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Atmosphere, watersheds, land, sediments, marine, estuary, ecological effects, particulates, discharge, ecosystem, indicators, restoration, scaling, integrated assessment, decision making, environmental chemistry, marine science, biology, physics, ecology, hydrology, modeling, monitoring, analytical, surveys, measurement methods, remote sensing, Chesapeake Bay,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Waste, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, Nutrients, Ecology, Hydrology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Contaminated Sediments, Physics, State, Chemistry, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Monitoring/Modeling, Air Deposition, Watersheds, Ecological Indicators, nutrient transport, aquatic ecosystem, agriculturally impacted watershed, anthropogenic stress, basin hydrology, coastal ecosystem, hydrological stability, nutrient supply, anthropogenic stresses, ecological exposure, agricultural runoff, CISNet, watershed management, meteorology, nutrient flux, contaminated sediment, coastal zone, remote sensing data, coastal plain ecosystems, CISNet Program, Choptank River, predictive model, soil, shipboard sampling, Maryland (MD), aquatic ecosystems, water quality, stress responses, nutrient transport model, discharge, nitrogen, nutrient management, atmospheric deposition, ecological response

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • Final Report